So posted about their tour of Mirkwood with “Rowan” and for me in addition to pretty screen-shots (there have also been lots of other sites linking to the new shots) I at least did pick up some new info.

  • Screen-shot showing the area map (link)
  • Background story – we’re on the front lines helping the elves re-take the forest
  • Info on the new mechanics of the instances (more on this below, as I thought this was really cool)
  • Skirmishes – nothing really new here although they did toss out different names for the soldiers – Archer and Herbalist which my guess is they map into the DPS and Healer path mentioned in the dev diary.
  • Skirmish marks – finally some info on the rewards! (more below)
  • Legendary relic slot – nothing new here
  • Combat more responsive as it is not gated by auto-attacks.
  • Mounts – nothing terribly new that we didn’t already know, although I’m so looking forward to being able to vendor things while mounted!

Ok, so for me the 2 big parts of this post were the instances and the skirmish marks.

With Mirkwood we’re getting 5 new instances and Rowan took the Massively crew through 2 of them.  What I liked most was the thought process and the new concepts being brought to these instances.  Now I’m not saying these are brand new to the MMO world, but they’re new to LOTRO 🙂  The first instance mentioned was the Sword Hall of Dol Goldur is an arena style instance.  While that sounds cool enough, there are torches in the room that control the difficulty in what appears to be how many bosses you fight at the same time.  Also notice the part about a chest for each boss, and one for completing hard mode – which I think is getting to the new drop system they’ve talked about.

The other instance they talk about is the Dungeons of Dol Guldur which introduces some fun sounding mechanics for the guard behavior.  Basically you’re trying to free the prisoners without being caught – there is a jail cell that they can throw you in for a “really long time” which doesn’t sound appealing at all.  The set-up of the rooms you need to clear is completely random, so each door you open could be a prisoner in need of rescue or something unpleasant.  Also there are patrols which are following randomized paths (unlike the FG sentries) which you’ll have to dodge as well.  We are given a little bone here as we can apparently use poppy seed barrels to put the roamers to sleep ;).  And at the end, the final boss fight you actually are helped out by all the prisoners you free!  So it certainly seems like there’s a nice reward for freeing them, but not something that’s mandatory once you figure out the boss (although I’m sure there will be a deed or quest for freeing the prisoners).

Skirmish marks are tokens that you can barter with for what appears to be a pretty wide variety of items.  I’m guessing that this is the methodology in which you “level” up your solider and give them new, better traits, but also allows for ways to boost your character as well.  The article mentions “weapons, armor, consumables (food/potions, etc), cosmetic items (hopefully new ones), rep items (very cool) and much more.”  So it seems like a good mix of “fluff” rewards but also looks like another path of item upgrades as well.  Now we have no idea how good this stuff is or how expensive they’ll be but the idea is quite promising.  I especially like the idea of tying it to rep as it gives us another way to get reputation if we so choose to.  The fact that skirmishes (and the marks) will start at 30 to me sounds like a potentially awesome way to equip your character as you level!

For me, I’m really excited about the new instances as it sounds like they’re continuing what they did with the new Book 8 instances and making them just as much puzzles as zergs.  And the skirmish rewards sound pretty sweet as well!

Check out the full article over here at Massively.